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Self Employed Home Loan

Home loan secrets for the self employed!

Banks just love to make it hard for anyone with a business to borrow money!

They want tax returns, notices of assessment and then letters from your accountant, making applying for a loan incredibly difficult.

Luckily not every bank has the same requirements for the self employed!

Read on to find out the tricks to getting your loan approved…

How long do I need to be self employed for?

To get a self employed home loan, the majority of lenders require you to be self employed for at least two to three years, however some can consider people who have been self employed for only one year!

If you’ve been self-employed for one year or more, speak to us today on 1300 889 743 or fill in our free assessment form to find out how you can get approved for a mortgage.

What if I've been self-employed for less than a year?

If you’ve been self employed for less than one year, then unfortunately there aren’t many options. Most banks won’t lend to you because you don’t yet have tax returns to prove your income and because new businesses have more financial uncertainty.

One of our lenders can look at your income from your last job and take that as proof that you can afford the loan.

The reasoning behind this is that if you decided to close your business you could always return to working for someone else on a similar salary. On that basis we can help you borrow up to 80% of the property value.

What if I've been self-employed for one to two years?

One of our lenders can approve loans for people who have been self employed for between one and two years as long as they have been in the same line of work for some time and have at least one year’s financials for the new business.

A good example of someone we can help would be a plumber with his own business, who has been operating one year, who was previously employed as a plumber for five years.

If you’re concerned that your employment situation may make you ineligible for a home loan, please call us on 1300 889 743 or fill in our free assessment form. We specialise in helping self-employed people get mortgages with great rates!

What mistakes do banks often make?

We often see mistakes in the way that the banks calculate the income for self employed borrowers.

For complex loans we make extensive notes, and if need be, call the assessor and walk them through the financials to ensure that they assess the loan correctly.

The most common mistakes we see are:

  • Lack of understanding: Complex trust structures with multiple companies and trusts are often handled by bank staff that lack the experience to understand what’s actually happening with your income or if you’re using income protection payments. In these cases, we’d talk to your accountant and then talk to the assessor to ensure they understand exactly what’s going on.
  • Double dipping: This is where the lender takes an income into account twice (e.g. Net Profit Before Tax and also accepting the dividend paid to a director) or takes an expense into account twice (e.g. forgetting to add back interest on loans).
  • Company car: Lenders regularly ignore the benefit a self employed person receives from tax deducting their car expenses in their company. We always draw their attention to this in our notes.
  • Procrastination: Technically this isn’t an error as it’s done on purpose! If your loan is particularly complicated then we find that bank staff may take their time to get to your application. We usually speak to management and ask them to assign your loan to an experienced assessor who will enjoy the challenge of a complicated application.

How do lenders calculate my income?

Most lenders believe that by looking at your past tax returns they can predict how stable your business will be in the future.

Banks and non-bank lenders alike tend to be very wary if you have an income that has increased or decreased by a large amount in the last two years.

  • One lender may use the lowest of the income figures for the last two years.
  • Another may use the most recent year’s income as shown on your tax return.
  • Some may even average the two years income or take 120% of the lowest year’s income.
  • They may or may not then add back expenses shown on your returns.

As you can imagine this makes a big difference to your loan application! Importantly, every lender will interpret your tax returns in a different way and may look at your skills as an entrepreneur, your experience in the industry and the risk profile of your industry to determine how to assess your income.

Depending on your situation, we may pick and choose which information to provide to help prove the highest possible income. If you can provide them, then we may ask for Business Activity Statements (BAS), An Australian Taxation Office (ATO) tax portal printout or bank account statements for the last three to six months showing your turnover.

We specialise in finding the lender that will look at your documents most favourably!

Please contact us on 1300 889 743 or fill in our free assessment form and we can help you find the right lender who will assess your income in the best possible way!

What do lenders think?

Lenders have the view that self employed borrowers represent a higher risk because their income isn’t as stable.

Some banks even view those in the construction industry less favourably then those from accounting firms. This is simply because banks have seen higher levels of default over the years from particular industries so tend to be more conservative when lending to them.

At one time, a leading mortgage insurer even refused to approve low doc loans for builders!

As you can see, the banks complete a more thorough assessment of applications from business owners.

Luckily we can help!

Unlike most major banks, we know that there are also hundreds of thousands of businesses Australia wide that have been trading profitably for years.

It just isn’t fair to paint them all with the same brush!

We know which lenders treat self-employed people more favourably. Contact us on 1300 889 743 or fill in our free assessment form for expert advice on your loan!

How will lenders view my tax returns?

When a credit officer working for a bank receives your tax returns on his desk he’ll check to make sure they’re signed and certified and backed up by notices of assessment. This is a simple fraud check to make sure that these are the tax returns you lodged with the ATO.

Next, he’ll usually look at the last two year’s taxable incomes and add back any unusual expenses such as one off losses.

Did you know some lenders will add back extra super contributions and even depreciation?

This is where the banks really show a large difference in the way they read your tax returns! Banks will also have different documentation requirements depending on if you’re a company, trust, partnership or sole trader. They may ask for interim financials or cash flow projections, depending on the nature of your business and risk of your application.

To find out more, or to speak to one of our expert mortgage brokers about applying for a home loan, please contact us on 1300 889 743 or complete our free assessment form.

How recent are your tax returns?

By March or April each year most lenders begin to ask for tax returns for the most recently completed financial year. Up until that point you can provide the tax returns from the year before!

So, for example, if you applied in January 2015 most lenders would require your tax returns for 2012 and 2013, however in March 2015 most lenders would require 2013 and 2014 returns.

Of course there are always exceptions! One of our lenders can accept older tax returns as an exception to their normal policy. This is useful for people who haven’t had a chance to lodge their most recent return.

One of our other lenders only requires one years’ tax returns. This is useful for people who have had a bad year the year before or who only recently started their business.

What is an "add back"?

Your taxable income alone isn’t the same as your actual income that you can use to pay your commitments, including the repayments for the new mortgage. So lenders add back any expenses that you’ve incurred that reduced your taxable income, however aren’t a “real” expense or ongoing commitment.

By adding back expenses you can increase your assessable income and your borrowing power!

Some examples of add backs are:

  • Depreciation: Depreciation is a tax deduction however isn’t a day to day expense. For this reason, some lenders add it back to your taxable income.
  • Additional superannuation: If you’ve made lump sum contributions to super in excess of your minimum requirements then these can be added back.
  • Net Profit Before Tax (NPBT): If you have profits that you’ve retained in your company then these can be taken into account as well. If you don’t own the entire company then lenders will assess your share of the net profit.
  • One off expenses: If you had an extraordinary expense then we can often add this back. We may need an accountant letter to confirm this.
  • Interest expenses: If you have a business loan or investment loan then it’s likely that you have tax deducted the interest that you have paid. We can add this back as lenders will assess all commitments that you have separately in their serviceability calculator.
  • Rental property expenses: Depreciation on your properties, management fees, repairs and other rental property deductions such as negative gearing are all added back. Rent income is also deducted from your income as lenders assess this separately to your main income.
  • Company car: If you have a car that’s used by your business and yourself then it’s likely that you have tax deducted many of the expenses associated with this car. Lenders don’t add this back, however they’ll often add in an extra $3,000 to $6,000 in income to compensate for this.
  • Trust distributions: If you have your business in a discretionary trust and have chosen to distribute income to some of your family members then in most cases this can be added back. Note that many lenders don’t accept this add back, or will only do so if you provide a letter from your accountant to confirm that the beneficiaries aren’t financially dependent on this income.

As you can see, this can get quite complicated! As a result many bank employees make mistakes when assessing your income.

Low doc options

Most lenders these days will allow you to not submit tax returns or financials if you sign a declaration confirming your income.

The lender can then assess your loan using the declared income.

Although most lenders don’t charge a higher rate for low doc loans they may charge you Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI) as a one off fee when the loan is set up.

This fee is usually charged for loans over 60% of the property value.

For more information see our low doc home loans section, our alternative income verification page, or complete our free assessment form. Our mortgage brokers will help you find a great lender & competitive loan package. Speak to us today on 1300 889 743!

Avoid business banking

If you’re borrowing in a company, trust or partnership then you may get referred to business banking. Avoid this at all costs!

If you have a residential property as security then why should you pay a higher rate and higher fees just because you’re borrowing in a company? Your loan may be a business loan, however the risk to the lender isn’t any higher than for a standard mortgage!

Some of our lenders will approve company home loans and trust home loans at standard residential rates.

You may have to pay slightly higher fees so that the lender can draw up more extensive loan documents which encompass a personal guarantee from the directors.

For more information or to apply for a loan, please contact us today on 1300 889 743 or complete our free assessment form. We can help you get approval!

Apply for a home loan

If you’re self-employed and looking to get finance, please speak to us!

However, keep in mind that it’s best to apply for a home or investment loan when you feel your business is stable.

This is something that both us and the bank can’t assess, you’d need to determine this for yourself.

Talk to us on 1300 889 743 or complete our free assessment form to obtain a quote from a lender that will be best suit your situation.

  • Tonie

    Hi, I’m a self-employed carpenter and want to buy an investment property in Salisbury, QLD. I want to know how the banks calculate the income, since I was on loss the last year due to life-event and I couldn’t give enough time to my business. However, it has been recovered and this year, I’ve expected income to be 85k, so please anyone suggest me which one will the bank use as my net income?

  • Hi Tonie,

    Most lenders usually require two year financials and tax returns to establish a consistent income, however there are some lenders that can go by one years tax returns.

    If you don’t have your latest tax return after the business has started doing well, there are some lenders that can still help you based on the income that can be proved by one or all of the following: Business Activity Statement, Business Transaction Statements, Accountant Declaration.

    Moreover, some lenders calculate the average income of 2 financial years, some other use the lowest one while some other use the recent one, so we as a mortgage broker will assist you to find that particular lender which views your documents most generously.

  • Elissa Jenkins

    Heya. I have been a freelancer for 1 year 6 months. I am full-time. My husband has run his business for 4 years. He is part-time. Like any business, we’re always being encouraged to write off as many expenses as possible in any given financial year to minimise our tax. In applying for a loan, will a bank manager look at our gross income (before expenses) or our net profit (after expenses)? I know when you are salaried, they look at your gross income. Is it the same when self employed? Thank you.

  • Hey Elissa,

    It’s actually a tough one to answer, it depends on many factors.

    If you contract to one main company and just provide your labour we can have you assessed as PAYG which means approx 46 weeks income can be used less any GST you charge. This is to allow for annual leave and sick leave.

    There’s also low doc options that include BAS statements, bank account statements or an accountant’s declaration as alternative methods of verifying your income. The rates on these are actually quite low at the moment, often below 5% and some around 4% to 4.3%. Here’s some other options to verify your income https://www.homeloanexperts.com.au/low-doc-loans/alternative-income-verification/

    Most banks would use your taxable income but would add back depreciation. Some would be harsh and would take the lower of the last two years income which isn’t fair on a new business like yours.

    Having a larger deposit (>20%) will also allow us to use some different methods some lenders have which allow more of your income to be used.

    Best of luck!

  • Willow

    Hi guys, I’ve been running my own business for well over a decade now. Currently, I have half a dozen employees and the turnover and income is pretty good. I have tax returns but the last two years’ returns show a bit of a drop in income. I am living in a display home right now and I have collect a 10% deposit to buy a second display home for which I need to borrow at least 80% of the property value. I have all my banking facilities with ANZ and so I tried applying with them but they said no.

  • Hi Willow,

    A business with a long history is great but because of the drop in income in your last two years’ tax returns, we may have to go for a low doc display home loan if lenders can’t get convinced to go full doc or they refuse just as your bank did. However, we may be able to get one of our low doc lenders to consider the display home at 80% LVR with an accountant’s letter or even go with a commercial lender. We will need more info so we can properly assess your situation and highlight your strengths to increase your chances to go full doc. Please call us on 1300 889 743 and speak with one of our self employed home loan specialists.